Essay on Yugoslavia: the Kosovo War 1998-1999 – Pre-war Confrontation

In general, it was a natural need for Slobodan Milosevic, who was striving to the heights of power in Serbia, to play on the feelings of wounded national dignity and act as an advocate for the interests of Serbs not only in Kosovo, but also in whole Yugoslavia. Thus, after the proclamation of Bosnia’s independence in 1992 by Bosnian Serb leaders, the war actions supported by him broke out, together with the first ethnic cleansings, primarily directed at Eastern Bosnia against ethnic Bosnian population (44%, mostly Muslims) (Clark 2002).

According to the internationally accepted version, during the 1991-1995civil war in Yugoslavia, the Serbs killed about 7000-8000 unarmed Bosnian men aged 13 to 77 years (Beach 2000:111). Once a Bosnian town or village was taken, its houses were systematically plundered and burned, and the civilians were compulsorily herded into camps (separating men from women), beaten or killed. In 1992, the world community also heard of “rape camps”¯ in Bosnia, where the Serbs systematically raped imprisoned women and prohibited abortion for those who got pregnant (Judah 2002). According to the Bosnian government, about 50,000 women and girls were raped during the war, as each time the troops occupied a village, they started their full-scale assault (Judah 2002:123). According to Clark (2002), these rapes were a whole military tactic, not just entertainment for Serbian soldiers. One of the bloodiest events which killed thousands of ethnic Albanian Muslims was the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, which by 1993 had become a Muslim enclave. The victims of those events were buried in mass graves; in particular, in 2005, there was found a mass grave containing the remains of 616 Bosnian Muslims at a time (Shrivastava and Agrawal 2005:183).

In the conditions of increase in ethnic conflict, in May 1992, under the strictest secrecy, the leaders of Albanian groups of different orientation – from religious-political (Islamic) to monarchical and communist ”“ decided to unify their forces, being led by the powerful unifying factor of Albanian nationalism and struggle for “Great Albania”¯. The first step in this direction was surely to be the divestiture of Kosovo. To realize these specific military and political objectives, it was decided to create a combat unit of the separatist organization, which was called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (Clark 2002).

Thus, while in the first half of the 1990’s Serbia continued losing power and international prestige due to the bloody ethnic wars in Bosnia and Croatia, the Albanian community of Kosovo started to accumulate its military capacities, and by 1998-1999, the KLA army included already about 30 thousand people (Clark 2002:241).

In their turn, the methods of KLA military operations were not characterized by humanity either. In addition to attacks on Yugoslavian military units and police forces, KLA carried out attacks on civilian Slavic population, other non-Albanians, as well as people loyal to the Yugoslavian authorities in order to create ethnically homogeneous Kosovo (Clark 2002). In addition to terrorist activities, KLA committed numerous acts of criminal nature: robbery, thefts, violence, property destruction, kidnapping of soldiers and civilians. According to Judah (2002), about two thousand of Serbs, Roma and even ethnic Albanians became the victims of violence and murders committed by KLA fighters, undergoing sadistic cruelty and refined tortures.

On the other hand, focused efforts to destroy the Kosovo Albanians were held in Kosovo from the Serbian side. In many cases, the punitive Yugoslavian troops burned out entire villages leaving their inhabitants without food and shelter, killed parents in front of their children and drove the Albanian population into concentration camps. According to KLA representatives in their call to the international community, the Serbian paramilitary forces took 20 thousand Drenika citizens, including the elderly and children, to an unknown destination, and held other 20 thousand residents at a military factory, where many of them were tortured (Daalder et al.2001:142). It is similar statements on the genocide of the Albanian population taking place Kosovo (though partly falsified by KLA to provoke the military intervention of international forces) that is known to be one of the main pretexts for the aggression against Yugoslavia by NATO.

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